Sur les bancs d’école du Québec, certains élèves, malgré leur jeune âge, ont déjà vécu l’indicible. Réfugiés ayant fui la guerre et la violence de leur pays, ils apprennent comme leurs camarades à lire et à écrire, mais doivent aussi se réapproprier une vie normale. Comment recréer du sens pour ces enfants dont l’existence même a été en suspens ? Comment réussir leur intégration scolaire en tenant compte de leurs difficiles parcours individuels ?
A bold and eclectic cinematic style defines the work of filmmaker Michka Saäl and her friend, writer Nadine Ltaif as they journey from childhoods in the Middle East to their chosen home of Montréal. Saäl is Jewish, Ltaif is Arab. Together they overcome the divisive prejudices of their upbringing and embark on an engaging search for clarity, familiarity and historical significance among the immigrant communities of Montréal. Saäl uses super-8 home movies, old photographs, dramatizations and casual conversations to cross personal and political boundaries, giving voice to the varied ancestries of us all. In French with English subtitles.
In this short documentary about The Tragically Hip, director David Battistella uses a split-screen and acid-etched colours to distil the iconic Canadian band’s essence. After decades together, through hotels, highways, gigs and recording sessions, The Hip’s members have forged a powerful brotherhood. "These guys are my life partners, musically" says bass guitarist Gord Sinclair. The Hip's brand of straight-ahead rock and roll has catapulted the band to international stardom, and ensured them a place in Canadian musical history, but at heart, they remain a bunch of guys from Kingston, Ontario, making music together just for fun.
This film was produced for the 2008 Governor General's Performing Arts Award.
This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of Black sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada's railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. There was a strong sense of pride among these men and they were well-respected by their community. Yet, harsh working conditions prevented them from being promoted to other railway jobs until finally, in 1955, porter Lee Williams took his fight to the union.
Claiming discrimination under the Canada Fair Employment Act, the Black workers won their right to work in other areas. Interviews, archival footage and the music of noted jazz musician Joe Sealy (whose father was a porter) combine to portray a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.
This short documentary profiles a different tool for getting work. In an immigration-rich society, the agency Voice Job offers an alternative to the traditional job search. This film was made as part of the Work For All project 2006, an NFB and HRSDC-Labour initiative to combat racism in the workplace.
Filmmaker Paul Émile d'Entremont's documentary presents Reema, a lively and sensitive young girl confronted with difficult questions about her identity. After spending the first 16 years of her life with her Canadian mother, Reema re-connects with her Iraqi father by spending 2 months with him in Jordan. On returning home to Nova Scotia, she realizes she will always have a double identity, and that it is both a burden and a treasure.
An award-winning actor, writer, producer and director, Paul Gross has struggled to find the right balance between the heart and the head, between intellect and emotions. But sometimes a story comes along, captivates a filmmaker and simply won't leave. For Gross, this story was Passchendaele, a film based on his grandfather's experiences in a WWI battle that became synonymous with Canada's courage and resolution in the face of epic tragedy. This film was produced for the 2009 Governor General's Performing Arts Award.
Being young is tough, especially if you're Black, Latino, Arab or Asian. In a city like Montreal, you can get targeted and treated as a criminal for no good reason. Zero Tolerance reveals how deep seated prejudice can be. On one side are the city's young people, and on the other, its police force. Two worlds, two visions. Yet one of these groups is a minority, while the other wields real power. One has no voice, while the other makes life-and-death decisions.
When a policy of zero tolerance to crime masks an intolerance to young people of colour, the delicate balance between order and personal freedom is upset. A blend of cinéma vérité and personal testimonies, this hard-hitting film will broaden your mind and change your way of thinking. In French with English subtitles.
In the stark Labrador interior, a growing number of Filipino workers have recently landed in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, travelling halfway around the world for jobs they hope will offer their families new opportunities and a better life. Becoming Labrador follows a handful of those women and men as they make a place for themselves in Labrador while dealing with the unexpected costs of living far from their family.
Karen Cho, a fifth-generation Canadian of mixed heritage, discovered that half her family wasn't welcome in the country they called home. While Canada encouraged and rewarded immigration from Europe, it imposed laws that singled out the Chinese as unwanted and unwelcome. Cho's film, In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, takes her from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last living survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. This dark chapter in our history, from 1885 until 1947, plunged the Chinese community in Canada into decades of debt and family separation. At the centre of the film are personal accounts of extraordinary Chinese Canadians who survived an era that threatened to eradicate their entire community. Through a rich melding of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations, with deeply moving testimonials, it reveals the profound ways this history still casts its shadow.
On March 2, 2004, Bernard Lord's Conservative government announces that the hospital in Caraquet, New Brunswick, will be converted to a community health centre. Considering the government's decision unfair, the people of the region rally to save the health care services to which they feel entitled. Despite their year-and-a-half-long struggle, the Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus is closed. In recording the chronology of the events, Renée Blanchar plunges into the heart of the action with an urgent need to speak out against injustice. The result is a very human film about solidarity. In French with English subtitles.